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Movie Review: The A-Team

Reviewed by Melissa McGahee

“I love it when a plan comes together” – Hannibal (Liam Neeson)

Very rarely do I ever reach the level of excitement I felt as a child when a movie I want to see is released. When the revamp of the hit 80s show “The A-Team” was announced, I was at first wary and my expectations were low. As more information was released, my hopes grew. The cast seemed to inspire thoughts of the old characters. The trailer reminded me of the original. By April I was counting down the days.

Now, there have been reviews that are extremely harsh. They throw words around like “macho” and “testosterone” as if they are bad or dirty words to use. Sure, throw a few grenades and bazookas on the back of a female martial arts expert with huge boobs, a tiny waist and perfect make-up and we’ll call that equality. Make a movie about male comradeship, and the critics will work like hell to bury it.

There is nothing sexist or demeaning about strong confident men who work together to take down bad guys. When done right, the result can be incredible. Thankfully, “The A-Team” never forgot its roots and created a fun-filled ride with unexpected turns and heart-stopping action sequences. It was at it’s core, “The A-Team.”

The film opens with a quick set of introductions. Not only is each main character introduced with a credit sequence but the way in which the team was formed is also revealed. Hannibal (Liam Neeson) escapes from a near-death situation only to hitch a ride from B.A. (Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson) who isn’t the most willing driver. He quickly warms up to Hannibal when they realize they share a military background. Quickly, they pick up Face (Bradley Cooper) who too got himself into hot water by sleeping with a beautiful very married woman. They happen by a psychiatric hospital where B.A. seeks medical attention where he is quickly stitched up. The problem being the doctor doing the work is really mental patient Murdock (Sharlto Copley).

Now, fans of the original will know the reason The A-Team went underground was because they were accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Loyalists may know that the crime was robbing the bank of Hanoi. Very similarly, the movie follows the gang as they attempt to infiltrate billions of dollars being printed with plates held by a group of terrorists. The plan goes awry. The money is blown away and the plates are stolen. The head of the operations is dead and the team is found guilty. Hannibal attempts to take the heat but the group quickly insists on sharing the same trial. The courts send each to a different prison.

Six months later, the group escapes and work to clear their name facing all sorts of enemies in the process.

The A-Team could not have been cast better. Liam Neeson played Hannibal a bit different than the late great Peppard. Though he is still the brains behind the operation, he’s more careful and contemplative. He isn’t as excited by the game of it. He does what has to be done and enjoys taking down the bad guys but there’s also a somber quality about him.

Bradley Cooper does a great job as Face. He brings out all the same qualities that Dirk Benedict perfected. The only major difference is that the Benedict never played the role particularly tough. Face didn’t want to be hit. Cooper is a bit more of a willing team player with the hand-to-hand combat and actually heckles one guy who punches him in the face.

Jackson too does great as B.A. Though Mr. T felt the film was too violent, I must say I respectfully disagree. I think it was toned down -certainly not as much as the TV show, but it was a low level of violence with a small death count. Jackson also brought a new facet of Baracus out. His personal struggle to deal with violence and seeking guidance from great thinkers was a great addition. B.A. wasn’t just the brawns but actually showed brains as well.

Finally, there is Murdock. As a Dwight Schultz fan it was going to be a very difficult task for me to accept anyone else in the role. Murdock is one of my favorite characters of all time, and shockingly Sharlto Copley did not disappoint. He was perfectly cast and brought the comedic levity that the production needed.

Overall the film exceeded high expectations and is a must-see. Those who adore the original, stay seated after the credits for Schultz and Benedict to make an all-too-short appearance. That said, the pretentious drones who praise anything about Joan Rivers life (looking at you A.O. Scott) will without doubt complain about the lack of intellectualism and overdone testosterone of “The A-Team,” but then again there is a reason that Disney has decided to cancel “At the Movies,” and “A-Team” is ranking in millions at the box office.

Ringside Report Rating: 8/10

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